Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Something or Someone is missing?

Do you long for real revival in your heart, community and our land? Today we are facing a period of moral and spiritual decline that is perhaps more widespread than ever in our history. In spite of all our efforts, programs and methods we seem to be drifting farther and father away and the darkness getting darker and darker.  As a nation we desperately need revival - a touch from heaven, a fresh encounter from God that will change our lives, behaviors, ethics, norms and even the structures of our society. God has an answer for us.  He has revealed Himself and worked in the past in times of darkness. He can do it again. In fact, He is ready to help but He is waiting on a people that will return with their whole hearts to His agenda and purposes. It is time for us to stop, reflect and re-connect with the One that can change it all. Will you be such a person? (Essay by Dr. Francois Carr).  

I am profoundly convinced that the greatest need in the world today is revival in the Church of God.” – Dr. D.M. Lloyd-Jones [1]

Is God gone too? I began to seek God, but couldn’t find him.” Jim Bakker spoke these words as he pondered about the time he had spent in prison. Jim and his wife, Tammy Faye started the Praise The Lord Club in 1967. It became one of the most televised ministries of its time. They added Heritage USA, a Christian theme park. They saw prosperity as a gift from God. Everything around them seemed to be blessed, until a series of scandals surfaced in 1987. Jim was caught funneling money and paying a $265,000 bribe to his church secretary to cover up their adulterous relationship. Newspaper reporters began to investigate them and discover financial wrongdoings. They discovered that more than $158 million of the ministry's funds were spent on themselves. Jim admitted to spending money on luxury cars and six mansions. He had forty-seven bank accounts in his name. They have wasted money on all kinds of luxuries, this even included $60,000 in gold-plated bathroom fixtures.

He was convicted of fraud and sentenced to forty-five years in prison and given a $500,000 fine. He served almost five years before he had been paroled for good behavior. God used that time to draw Jim back to Himself because He meant it for his good. Looking back on his time in prison, Jim Bakker said:

The first months of prison were devastating. After being in public ministry for every day of your life and then finding yourself with everything gone – not only the material things, but friends and reputation – facing forty-years, you wonder, Is God gone too? I began to seek God, but I couldn’t find him.” [2]

Where is God?

The words of Jim Bakker reminded me of a question which was asked by Gideon, one of Israel’s Judges, in the Old Testament when Israel faced many trails, transitions and persecutions? He asked, “O my Lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles, which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hand of the Midianites.”

The children of Israel`s way of living was evil in the sight of the Lord (Judges 6:1-10). So God delivered them in the hands of Midian and the Amalekites and the children of the East who bordered Israel. He allowed the Midianites to raid Israel for seven years. The annual raid took place around harvest time, destroying their crops, stealing the livestock and ravaging the land, leaving people living in fear, caves and in deep poverty. If you can imagine and picture the scenario, you’ll have some idea about the uncertainty and suffering Israel experienced. They were gravely impoverished. The crops and harvest were gone. Their desperately needed provisions were gone. They too might have wondered if God was gone? Being weary of hiding and struggling they cried out to their God.

An unexpected visit brings insight

Gideon did not doubt the existence of God. Maybe his family read the Law of Moses or talked about the miracles of God by the hands of Deborah and Barak (Judges 4-5) or days gone by? Maybe he was thinking about the message of the prophet (Judges 6:8) sent by God? However, he struggled with the fact that God had worked mightily on behalf of Israel in the past but not at that time in history. Seven years of suffering had gone past and it seems not to be ending.

God met with Gideon around about the eighth Midianite invasion. At the time he was a farmer and descended from the tribe of Manasseh. The Angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son was busy threshing wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites. The Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!”

When we first met him, he was hiding – attempting to covertly thresh wheat in a winepress (Judges 6:11). The process of beating out grain and separating it from the chaff normally took place out in the open, on a hilltop where the breeze would blow the chaff away. He took cover in the shelter of a winepress. This was not the ideal place for winnowing wheat and maybe he thought it would go undetected. No doubt Gideon was startled by the fact that his hiding place was discovered. But we can sympathize with him. He was afraid.

Gideon struggled with faith and was a bit of a coward. However, he is a great encouragement for people that have a hard time believing that God can make anything out of them or do anything with them or change their current circumstances. The Lord can and wants to show himself strong (2 Chronicles 16:9). He is just waiting for someone to really believe in Him, trust Him enough to adjust their lives and follow Him.

He encountered a truth

Gideon was reminded about God’s power and presence in days gone by when He led the people out of Egypt into the Promised Land. He reasoned about their circumstances and what was happening and the problems and hardships they face and experienced, wondering where the power and presence of God had gone. This caused within him a crisis of faith, struggling with doubt and fear as he was trying to understand and making sense of it all.

I can imagine the questions that must have crossed his mind: Does God really cares? Does God know what He’s doing? Will God take care of us? Will God keep His promises? Why are we living in poverty, fear and hiding in caves? If God is with us, where is He? Is He gone? Does He even exist?

One would think that God would give him a well-thought-out plan of action, some war strategies, resources and lots of encouragement when He answered him. That did not happen. He simply said to Gideon: “Surely I will be with you, and you will defeat the Midianites as one man” (Judges 6:16, NKJV)

When the Lord spoke, he addressed the real issue affecting Gideon’s faith and that of the nation. God was still at work but Gideon could not see or hear Him speak or understand His message, and experience His care and provision.

God still speaks

Firstly, God was speaking through the Midianites, Amalekites and people from the East (Judges 6: 3). God allowed the trials and hardships to take place because of their sin and disobedience. He wanted to get their attention and lead them to repentance and have them return to Him. His desire was to restore them. He wanted to be their God and live among them and bless them.

God is still present

Secondly, God was still with him and with the nation. The Angel of the Lord confirmed this when He said: “The Lord is with you” and ‘surely I will be with you’. He could not see or experience the fact of God`s presence and closeness. His view and outlook on life was blurred by his circumstances and that which was happening around him. It is a reality that also affects us today, that God is present amidst the hardships and uses that to draw us to Himself.

God still cares

Thirdly, the people of Israel cried out to God. God still cares and His desire was to help them. He wanted to bring them back to Himself and reveal His glory to the nations. God appeared and revealed Himself to Gideon and invited him to join Him on His mission. God`s desire was to work in and through him, but he had to believe, adjust his life and accept His invitation (Judges 6:11-14).

Some similarities today

We can draw some conclusions from Gideon`s conduct and experience which are applicable even today as there are some clear similarities with the people of Israel and life as we now it today. In reality the times we live in are some of the most demanding and challenging we’ve ever known. People worldwide are facing difficult trials, conflicts, persecution and transitions which are affecting all aspects of their lives. Countries and nations war against each other, groups of people raid towns and villages, killing one another for more power, land and money. Riots, unrest, widespread violence and conflicts are reported daily on the news media. We see millions of refugees relocating to other countries searching and looking for safety and a better life and future. People of all cultures and backgrounds are living in poverty, uncertainty and in fear. The political and economic crisis worldwide continues to affect all of us as governments and leaders have no solution to bring about peace, stability, growth and prosperity.

Businesses are closing down, while debt and unemployment continues to escalate. Life has become a daily struggle for many. Survival, paying the bills and put food on the table are part of this daily struggle. It was clearly visible on my recent trip to the Middle East, noticing the number of hotels closing down and unemployment and poverty increasing due to a drop of eighty percent of tourism. Ron Blue in his book, Surviving Financial Meltdown explains that the rising cost of living, the economic turn down, job insecurities, growing debt, losing of homes while many have no savings for when they grow old is the cause of fear in the hearts of many [3]. We are truly living in uncertain, unsettling and difficult times leaving many of us with the same burning questions as Jim Bakker and Gideon.

Where is God? Does He still exist? Why is this happening? Will it ever stop?
Does He really cares? Is there any hope?

The lesson is clear. When we stop seeking God and His heart the lit comes off and the blessing stops until we stop and pay attention to what we experience (Haggai 1).

The Dilemma in the World

We continue to see a great moral, ethical, and spiritual decline that permeates our nations, culture and communities. Political and corporate scandals and corruption are common at all levels of society and leadership. Sexual promiscuity, pornography, abortions, outbreak of diseases, crime, violence and global terrorism plague the nations and world.

As a result, the world plunges deeper and deeper into darkness. We see thousands of people, aimlessly drifting and debasing themselves and human dignity in public and in private. A spirit of lawlessness and spiritual apathy hangs like a fog over our land and the world. People are doing what seems to be right in their own eyes (Judges 2). Richard Dortch, senior vice-president of PTL who was also convicted and sent to prison with Jim Bakker later said: “Pride, arrogance, and secrets led to the scandal.” He also said they did not plan the scandal; instead it was the natural result of living for oneself rather than for God [4].

We are beginning to see the disintegration of foundational social institutions, culture and history. Unless something positive happens, which will transform our lives and redirect our course of life, civilization, as we know it, is sure to change even further for the negative. Dr. Henry Blackaby, author of Fresh Encounter, wrote:

We seem to be drifting farther and farther away from God and His standards. The darkness around us seems to be getting darker and darker, but the problem is not with the darkness because the nature of darkness is evil. The problem is the lack of light, because when light shines it dispels the darkness” [5].

The Dilemma of the Church

Many communities and cultures are not Christian or even religious anymore and in many instances even hostile towards anything spiritual. The sacredness of marriage, family, home and Church is forgotten. Great numbers of people start to doubt God and His existence, and coldness towards God and the Church are clearly growing. There seems to be a new way of thinking and a drifting away from God. People have become more critical towards religion. New schools of thought and a new kind of spirituality have developed. According to John Dickerson in his book, The Great Evangelical Recession only 1 out of 10 people is Christian and in the next thirty years it will be 1 out of every 25 people [6]. We are on a downward spiral and this tendency is just continuing getting worse and out of control.

The Dilemma in the Church

Church membership is declining in the Western world. Most churches are shrinking and pastors are leaving the pastorate. Churches close their doors weekly. Instead of seeing Churches growing, establishing and equipping believers and evangelizing the lost they have become a weak minority. The Church has become powerless with little or no impact.

Many of them have fallen into the lure of novelties, marketing and teaching a doctrine without power, while others pursue the one church health program to the next. Calendars and schedules are filled with events and programs, the latest fads and quick fixes, chasing the ABC’s (Attendance, budgets and cash) of a successful church. Instead of finding change, transformation and reality they find themselves going through the motions of religious activities with little of no impact in our communities and cultures.

Jim Cymbala, pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle says:
Nothing can defeat the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit.” But, a powerful storm is surging against the Church, threatening its health. Yet most is asleep or unaware of the problems within itself that is warning signs. He said we are not as big as we think we are, Biblical literacy is declining and personal transformation has become rare [7].

The Dilemma of Christians

People have become stress out, tired, overcommitted and overloaded. There seems to be no time or energy left for God and Church. Many have become mere spiritual spectators and losing interest. I believe the reason for that is because we are not well rooted in our faith and in Jesus Christ.

First, instead of cultivating an intimate personal relationship with God we replace Him with programs, and exercising religious activities. According to Dr Andrew Murray, all believers run a risk in their devotional life and walk with God "of substituting prayer and Bible reading for living fellowship with God, the living interchange of giving Him your love, your heart, and your life and receiving from Him His love, His life and His Spirit" [9].

Furthermore, the lost sense of God’s presence and power in a believer’s life, church life, meetings, and in the general, a loss of the manifest awareness of God`s presence in our communion with Him is also a major factor and reason why many are struggling with unbelief, unconfessed sin, careless living and worldliness in their action or attitudes. Too often sin makes us complacent, dulling our spiritual sensitivity and blocking the channel of God’s blessing. Tom Elliff, explains this fact in his book, The Pathway to God’s Presence. He said: “a believer’s life, without the presence of God, is destined to flounder because we are not immune to the pressures and strains of life” [10]. It is a sobering thought that the loss of a definite sense of His presence might be the reason for our failure and low-level impact.

The lack of intimacy and God’s presence can rob us of God’s best, but we find ourselves hesitant to discuss it or even acknowledge or be willing to address this issue. It seems to be easier to just launch a new program and project, instead of becoming quiet, sit at His feet and allow Him to speak to us. However, exhausted by the added responsibilities, pressures and demands of the day, we find ourselves drifting away from our commitment to the Lord, lacking spiritual power and energy, resulting in failure, discouragement, more frustration and no lasting impact on our community.

Is there any Hope?

It is easy to despair. Robert Coleman, in his book The Coming World Revival states that it is easy to be pessimistic when problems seem overwhelming. Everything seems to be dark and one may feel that a better future seems to be impossible. However, we must remember that it is usually in these periods of great darkness and crises that revivals and transformations were born. This can happen today as well. Coleman says that our sense of helplessness can make us more sensitive to the need for supernatural grace. [11]

Billy Graham, well-known evangelist once asked a university professor what he thought was the greatest need of our hour. He responded:

I could give you a variety of answers all the way from tax relief to disarmament. I may surprise you, because I am not a religious man, but I believe that the greatest need that we have at this hour is a spiritual awakening which will restore individual and collective morals and integrity throughout the nation.” [12]

First century Christians and churches had their problems but they were able to change and transform the world. Today we have all the resources and technology but we struggle with changing the world. Could it be that we have been looking for answers in all the wrong places? Just like the people of Israel and Gideon could it be that God is allowing us to drift away from Him because we have stopped seeking Him and replaced Him and His agenda with our own agenda and way of thinking?

I believe that there is hope and that God is presently at work. God still speaks. He is still present and He still cares. The question is: Can we see Him, hear Him speak in and for the times we live in? As I travel throughout the nation, I see some encouraging signs:
  • There are a growing number of people that is longing for more. They cry out for more reality in their walk with God and for a deeper knowledge of God. They know God is alive and are not satisfied with the current status and their experience.
  • They also want to see and experience God today like in the ways God’s people have experienced His mighty power and presence, in Scripture and in history.
  • There is a willingness to return to God’s standards and His agenda, wanting to Glorify Him.

Where to start?

The heart`s cry of many is for a genuine revival – revival that comes from God and not from man. History gives testimony that whenever God had sent revival or there was a touch of His people, lives had been changed. Christians and Churches also have experienced new power and fervor to do His work and glorify Him. But, many are saying, “We don’t know what do? Where do we start?

God’s Word provides the answer. He has spoken clearly about His expectations and standards. He has revealed some principles and examples. He has created all mankind for His glory (Isaiah 43:7). So, how do we glorify Him? By doing and finishing His work and agenda (John 17:4). I believe that if we give special attention to what is on His heart, He will reveal and manifest Himself once again (John 14:21-23). What is on His heart?
  • His eternal and personal purpose and plan (Romans 8:29)
  • His Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20)
  • His compassion for the harvest and our response (Matthew 9: 35-38)
Firstly, we need to realize that Revival and Spiritual Awakening starts with God’s people and understand how that connects with His purposes and great commission. What is Revival? When does God send Revival? Why does He send Revival? What should we be doing right now? Do you long for real revival and fresh encounter with God?

Secondly, Christians and Churches need to become transformational in impacting their surrounding communities and cultures if we want to see lasting change. It will only happen if we understand our call and character and how that affects our community and culture. We also need to become ‘TransforMissional’ in our outlook and approach for the future, as we Re-discover the biblical model for lasting transformation.

God is ready to bless us (Hebrews 11:6) and pour out times of refreshing. He is waiting for us to return to His heart and His original intention, adjust our lives, schedules and agendas and respond in obedience to Him.

Will you be such a person? Will you stop, reflect and pay attention to what you, your church or country experience? God is not dead and gone. He is still to be found. He cares and still speaks. He is waiting for us to return to His heart and experience His power and presence. Don’t settle for less.

Author: Dr. Francois Carr

Notes:
1. Stephen Olford, Heart Cry for Revival (Ross-shire, Scotland, Christian Focus, 1962), p 15
2. Dave Early, Living in His Presence (Minneapolis, Bethany House Publishers, 2005), p 77-78)
3. Ron Blue, Surviving Financial Meltdown (Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Illinois, 2009), page 3
4. Dave Early, Living in His Presence (Minneapolis, Bethany House Publishers, 2005), p 78)
5. Henry Blackaby, Fresh Encounter (Nashville, Tennesee, LifeWay, 2006), Backpage
6. John Dickerson, The Great Evangelical Recession
7. Jim Cymabla, Storm (Grand Rapis, Zondervan, 2014), p 10-13 and backpage
8. Bruce Bennie, Andrew Murray Theologian by Heart (South Australia, 2004) p 17-18
9. Bruce Bennie, Andrew Murray Theologian by Heart (South Australia, 2004) p 19
10. Tom Elliff, The Pathway to God’s Presence (Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, CLC Publications, 2014), p. 39
11. Robert Coleman, The Coming World Revival (London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1989), Introduction
12. Lewis Drummond, Eight Keys to Biblical Revival (Minneapolis, Bethany House Publishers, 1994), p 7)

Francois Carr, BTH, MCC, D. Min, NDPM, is the Executive Director of Heart Cry in South Africa.  He is well known for his burden for revival and a popular speaker in Africa, North America, Europe, United Kingdom and New Zealand.  He authored several books and articles on prayer, holiness and revival. Francois’s ministry, Encountering God and Heart Cry  exist to glorify God by helping Christians and churches to experience God more intimately and mentor them on the way to Revival and Spiritual Awakening. He co-sponsors the Heart Cry for Revival Conference that takes place at the Billy Graham Training centre in Asheville, NC.  He is married to Dorothea, have one child and currently resides in Pretoria, South Africa. 


Monday, 7 November 2016

Science and the spiritual realm

The spiritual realm is the most basic ingredient of about all religion. It has often been forcefully renounced in scientific circles. Atheists take it for granted that it does not exist. In this essay I show how that realm has been conceptualized in Immanuel Kant's philosophy. I also argue that it's existence has been confirmed in science in the context of the quantum realm!

The idea that a spiritual realm exists alongside our material world is extremely old. All the peoples of the ancient world believed in it. They believe that although this realm is inaccessible to our senses, it nonetheless exists and we have access to it through our human soul/spirit. Apart from human spirits there are also other kinds of spirits and gods that belong to that realm. The spiritual realm is also part and parcel of the Judaeo-Christian worldview. In their view God's Spirit is operative in the spiritual realm. They also belief that this realm makes life after death possible and that heaven and hell exist in this realm.

With the onset of the scientific age, the validity of these ideas were increasingly questioned. Although science is clearly restricted in its reach and is only able to study those things which are empirically accessible, some took that to mean that only that which is in fact so accessible should be reasonably accepted into our metaphysical view of the world. Enlightenment atheists and agnostics believed that the ancient belief about a realm outside our sensible and experimental reach is just a pie in the sky. In their view such religious views have no scientific grounding and should be discarded since they belong to the pre-scientific age when people held primitive ideas, many of which have been refuted by science. In their view we cannot believe things that cannot be proven. And since this realm lies beyond the reach of our experiments, they rejected it.

Even today, when we consider the spiritual realm in the context of scientific conversation, some would immediately take offense. They feel that it is totally unacceptable to even seriously consider something like that. Now, I agree that we cannot at this point in our scientific progress say anything about the existence of spiritual entities. On the other hand, the possible existence of such a supersensible realm that exists alongside our material realm is in fact nowadays within the reach of serious science! We can consider its possible existence in the light of contemporary science. I ague in this essay that its existence is confirmed in quantum physics.

When we want to discuss such a realm in the context of serious science, we must first of all say what such a realm would entail. We need a rational-theoretical model that we can subject to rigorous scientific testing. Luckily we have such a model: The philosopher Immanuel Kant developed such a metaphysical model in which he incorporated exactly such a supersensible realm!! Kant gave very particular specifics what such a realm would be like if it exists. In this essay I use this Kantian model when I engage with the question whether that realm has been confirmed in science.

Philosophy and the spiritual realm

The intellectual consideration of the spiritual realm started with the well-known philosopher Plato (5th to 4th century BC). Plato reworked the idea of the spiritual realm as it was taught by the Orphics, an early group of mystics, into his own idea of an intelligible realm. As such he conceptualized this realm as an invisible realm which, although inaccessible to our senses, may be accessed through our intellectual intuition. In his Phaedo Plato states quite openly that his idea is based on the spiritual realm of the Orphics and he even argues that the soul exists in that realm. As such two worlds may be distinguished: A visible world in which the human body exists and an invisible realm in which the soul exists.

In Plato's view the invisible realm is "the realm of the absolute, constant and invariable" whereas the visible world is always changing. He got this idea from Parmenides of Elea (b. c515 BC) who also argued for two such worlds, namely one that is the "real" world that is eternal, indivisible, motionless and changeless and the other that is the world of our senses, which is a world of "appearances". In Plato's view the invisible "forms" of material things belong to the first realm, whereas the visible things of the material world belong to the second realm. Insofar as the soul is concerned, he writes in the Phaedo: "Since the soul is invisible, it belongs to the eternal invisible world... When it [the soul] investigates by itself, it passes into the realm of the pure and everlasting and changeless; and being of a kindred nature, when it is once independent and free from interference, consorts with it".

Plato's opinion about the relation between these worlds changed through the course of his writing. At first (in the Phaedo) the "invisible world" is viewed as a separate domain where human souls go between lives (and where the gods live), but in the Republic the "intelligible" world (as it is now called) is more closely connected to our own world. This (our) world is somehow dependent on the "real" world for its existence (where the forms for the phenomena in this world are situated). In the Timaeus the real world (of unchanging being where the forms are situated) underlies this world (of becoming) in a very real sense in that it gives form to it.

Plato's idea about the intelligible and phenomenal realms was reworked by later philosophers like Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). In this essay I am only concerned with Kant's so-called "critical period" when he wrote his great philosophical works. Kant accepted the Platonic distinction between the "noumenal" world, as he calls Plato's intelligible world (from the Greek word for understanding, "nous"), and the phenomenal world. In Kant's view the noumenal realm is the substrate of the phenomenal world [1] and all phenomena have originally appeared from that substrate. Kant also accepts the human soul, which in his thinking is just the "noumenal" part of humans, i.e. that part which belongs to the noumenal realm.

In Kant's metaphysics as he presented it in his philosophy of science in the Critique of the Power of Judgment, the noumenal realm, which is also called the "supersensible realm", has five basic characteristics, namely 1) it is supersensible, that is, beyond human experiential and experimental reach, 2) it is outside proper space-time 3) it is outside "nature", which refers not to empirical nature but the concept of nature as a system which is ruled by mechanism, that is, deterministic causality 4) it is governed by absolute spontaneity and the entities in this realm, the non-extended wholes-and-parts (my terminology) has the spontaneous potentiality to produce material parts and aggregated wholes in nature 5) it produces phenomena in nature which simply "appear" in contrast with the appearances of everyday objects of the senses (for a detailed discussion, see [2]).

Since Kant's time there had been general agreement in philosophical circles that such a realm does not exist and that Kant has merely brought it into his philosophy to accommodate the Christian worldview, especially the soul and life after death. The problem that they had with this realm is that it is forever beyond empirical reach. Science can therefore never engage with it.

The supersensible realm and science

There is, however, one important possibility regarding the supersensible realm that Kant did not foresee which might allow partial empirical access of that realm (allowing for the possibility of manipulating entities in such a realm). This concerns his conception of space and time. Kant took space and time as pure intuitions through which we as humans engage with the material world. He also allows for various possible conceptions of space which may (through reason) be ascribed to those things that are beyond perception, which includes "noumena" (the entities that belong to the noumenal realm). Kant calls this "ideal space". What Kant did not foresee is that time may be coupled, not with proper space (as we normally do in perceiving the material world), but with ideal space which describes noumena.

If this last possibility is allowed, then we might be able to bring the noumenal realm under scientific scrutiny. And this is exactly what happened. In quantum mechanics space and time are decoupled and time is coupled with abstract Hilbert space which is associated with quantum entities. We know today that the quantum realm adheres to all the Kantian characteristics of the noumenal realm as I will now show.

1. Supersensible. Quantum entities in their pre-measurement state have irreducibly complex amplitudes (i.e. in terms of complex numbers) and as such they can never be brought into the range of human perception which are restricted to material things governed by real numbers (these complex numbers do not even have a real component). It is only when we measure these entities that they become situated in proper space-time.

2. Outside proper space-time. The kind of space that is used to mathematically describe these quantum entities (called Hilbert space) is also described in complex numbers! Although there have been efforts to reformulate such equations in proper space, this have not been successful (their complex nature is merely made implicit). The entities that we study in quantum mechanics are therefore not in proper space until we measure them. In Quantum Field Theory, the quantum entities are even outside space-time before measurement [3]. This is exactly what Kant has postulated for the supersensible realm.

3. Outside "nature". The quantum mode of existence (as I call it) which involves superpositions of states is also outside "nature". The interactions between quantum entities go beyond the the proper space-time framework as can be seen in the EPR (Einstein, Podolsky & Rosen) experiments (this name originated from their famous paper). Such connections are not restricted to the deterministic rules governing objects in space-time. In fact, Redhead [4] has shown that the so-called Bell proof (which led to the EPR experiments) implies that all kinds of determinism has broken down in these interactions between the quantum entities.

4. Spontaneity. We also know that the quantum mode of existence is governed by another rule than determinism, namely spontaneity. Niels Bohr used the empirical evidence of spontaneity to formulate his well-known quantum postulate. As such we can say that quantum outcomes are spontaneously produced. One of the clearest examples of such spontaneity is atomic decay which happens absolutely spontaneously without any external intervention. 

5. Phenomena that "appear". The phenomena that are so produced - which include those microscopic particles that are observed during impacts, in bubble chambers etc. - are different from the everyday phenomena in that they "appear" from the quantum substrate.


Image result for bubble chambers images
Bubble chamber: particles "appear"
It is clear that all five relevant characteristics of Kant's supersensible realm have been confirmed in quantum physics. This means that science has confirms the existence of a supersensile realm exactly in the form that Kant postulated it in his metaphysics! The quantum realm is in fact Kant's supersensible realm. Although the existence of the soul has not yet come into the range of scientific research, there is no reason why that would not eventually happen [5]. The fact is, however, that this very realm that modernist philosophers and scientists rejected as a pie in the sky, has now been (indirectly) confirmed empirically.

This brings me to a remarkable observation: all the ancients believed in a supersensible realm which was forcefully rejected by modernist science and especially by atheists since it did not conform to their worldview. The ancients were right; the modernist scientists, philosophers and atheists were wrong!! The very spiritual realm that Kant conceptualized as the noumenal realm in his philosophy - which in philosophical discussion originated with the view of the mystics in Plato's time - has now been confirmed by science. 

Conclusion

We live in remarkable times! The science of modernist times is dead - and the metaphysical views that were grounded on that science are dead too. Although those who reject the possibility of a spiritual realm do so mainly because they reject the idea of gods (spirits) and especially God, it seems that scientific discovery is not on their side. Scientific research and discovery about what our world is like, is consistent with a supersensible - or spiritual - realm.

I freely admit that this essay is restricted in scope and that the issues require more detailed discussion. I have already done this elsewhere [2]. Although atheists could try to argue that the view presented here is merely one alternative to other possible readings of quantum physics, I can say in defense that the basic things that I argue for regarding the supersensible realm (the five characteristics) are indeed widely accepted in scientific and philosophical circles. I argue that science has in fact confirmed Kant's conceptual system which was originally based on the idea of the spiritual realm. I conclude: the spiritual realm (in its most basic formulation) has been confirmed by science.
 
[1] Interpreters usually think that Kant's idea of the noumenal realm in his first great work, the Critique of Pure Reason, is substantially different from that in the two other Critiques, namely the Critique of Practical Reason and the Critique of the Power of Judgment. I reject that. In my view Kant held similar views (which did develop through time) throughout his critical period, i.e. in all three Critiques.
[2] Mc Loud, W. 2015. Introducing a Kantian Interpretation of Quantum Physics, in accordance with Kant's Philosophy of Science in the Critique of the Power of Judgment, reinterpreted and reworked with special attention to the supersensible realm. Masters thesis. UCT. Cape Town.
[3] Auyang, S. Y. 1995. How is Quantum Field Theory Possible? Oxford: oxford University.
[4] Redhead, M. 1987. Incompleteness, Nonlocality, and Realism. A prolegomenon to the philosophy of quantum mechanics. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
[5] I plan to argue for the existence of the soul in one of the essays in this series.

Author: Dr Willie Mc Loud (Ref. wmcloud.blogspot.com)
The author is a scientist-philosopher (PhD in Physics, MA in Philosophy). He writes on issues of religion, philosophy and science.




Monday, 3 October 2016

The final Antichrist: the different views

In this essay I discuss the most important views about the final Antichrist. The main question is: Should we expect a final Antichrist who will appear in the period preceding the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? And if so, how will we recognize him? I provide a fresh assessment of our understanding of the major Bible prophecies that have traditionally been interpreted as referring to the final Antichrist. Previous essays in this series include “The final world empire: the different views” and “The final seven years: the different views”.

Bible prophecy has throughout the ages intrigued many generations of Bible scholars and students. One of the topics that has been extensively studied is that of the Antichrist. This figure is of special importance in the sense that he represents that which is the opposite of the Christ/Messiah. Many Christian scholars believe that he would rise in the end times in the climax of the ages to fight with Jesus Christ during the great battle of Armageddon – and that his rule would be accompanied by special hardship and tribulation. Other scholars think that we should rather think in terms of various antichrists that include historical persons like Nero, although some of them would not exclude the possibility of a final Antichrist arising at the end of time.

The word “antichrist” appears only in the epistles of St. John. He mentions that there would be many antichrists as well as a final Antichrist: “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come” (1 Joh. 2:18). He also says that the spirit of the Antichrist was already working in the world during his own time. Although the word Antichrist does not appear elsewhere, various prophecies have been interpreted as referring to this final Antichrist among which the most important are in the Books of Daniel and Revelation as well as in St. Paul’s writings.

In this essay I take a fresh look at the person of the Antichrist. In doing so, I carefully consider the most important views about the Antichrist, namely the Biblical Criticism view that takes the prophecies as merely referring to historical persons (some of these scholars reject the notion of prophecy itself, see [1] for a discussion), the Historical view as well as the Futuristic view. I ask: what view makes the best sense when the integrity of the text and the historical context are considered. In my view we should in any such study take care to really listen to the voices of the prophets and the Hebrew tradition from which they originate.

Any serious scholar would have to admit that old Israel believed in prophecy in the sense of divinely inspired pronouncements that goes beyond the limited perspectives of the prophets [1]. Although scholars may disagree with that notion due to their own metaphysical commitments, they should at the very least accept that old Israel believed in it. As such we might allow that – if God truly inspired the prophets – some of these prophecies may refer to a final Antichrist who will appear at the end of days. We should not exclude certain views in principle just because we do not believe in it.

Does the Antichrist only refer to past historical persons?

In our study about the Antichrist, we restrict ourselves to the most important prophecies that are generally considered to refer to the final Antichrist. The first of these appear in the Book of Daniel, chapter 7. This is a very remarkable prophecy according to which the prophet Daniel is said to have had a vision in which various beasts appear one after the other from the sea, namely a lion with the wings of an eagle, a bear with three ribs between its teeth, a leopard with four heads and finally a dreadful and terrible beast, with iron teeth, that was exceedingly strong. This final beast had ten horns on its head.

While the prophet watched, another horn appeared on the head of the final beast that grew to be greater in appearance than the other horns. It had the eyes and mouth of a man. This entity spoke pompous words against the Most High and persecuted the saints for a period of “a time, times and half a time”. The prophet then saw how the judgment seat of the Ancient of Days was put in place and how all the heavenly multitudes appeared around it. The beasts were judged. Then he saw one like the Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven. He came to the Ancient of Days and received an everlasting dominion over all peoples, nations and languages.

There are general agreement among Biblical scholars that these beasts should be taken in geopolitical context as referring to the various empires that appeared in the Middle East to rule over the land of Israel. The question is, however, which empires are referred to? There are agreement that the lion refers to the Neo-Babylonian Empire (626-539 BC) to which the great Nebuchadnezzar belonged. The second beast, namely the bear, would refer to the next great empire, namely the Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BC) [2]. As for the rest, scholars are divided as to how exactly the application should be made (for a detailed discussion of the different views, see [3]).

Scholars from the Biblical Criticism school believe that the “prophecy” was written after the events happened. This means that all the relevant events should fit into the period before 164 BC (the book was written shortly after that in their view). Although many traditional scholars take the eleventh horn on the head of the fourth beast as referring to the final Antichrist, Biblical Criticism scholars believe that it refers to the Syrian (Seleucid) king Antiochus IV Epiphanus who captured Jerusalem in 167 BC. In their view one should regard this horn as the same one that is mentioned in the next chapter (8).

In Daniel 8 we read that the prophet saw a ram with two horns fighting against a male goat with one large horn between its eyes. The male goat with the single large horn cast the ram on the ground and trampled on it. After that, the goat grew very great, but then its horn was broken and four notable horns came in its place. Out of one of these came another horn that grew very great. It took power over the “Glorious Land” (Israel) and cast down some of the host of heaven. During that time the sanctuary was desecrated for a period of two thousand three hundred days and the holy people were “destroyed”.

In this case the interpretation of the vision is also provided. The ram with two horns is said to refer to the kings of Media and Persia. This is a reference to the Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BC). The male goat is said to refer to the first king of the kingdom of Greece – that is, Alexander the Great (336-323 BC), founder of the Greek (Macedonian) Empire. The four horns that rose in the place of the first one are said to refer to the four kingdoms into which his kingdom was divided after his death. These were the Ptolemaic kingdom, the Seleucid empire (later kingdom), the kingdom of Pergamon and the kingdom of Macedon. The fifth horn refers to Antiochus IV Epiphanus (175-164 BC), who became king of the Seleucid kingdom. He persecuted the Jews and defiled the temple.

The essential question is whether the eleventh horn in the prophecy about the four beasts is the same as the fifth horn in the prophecy about the ram and goat? Since it is assumed in Biblical Criticism circles that the book was written after the events that happened during the time of Antiochus IV, they accept that the author cannot refer to anything else but those events. The problem is, however, that there are important differences between the two visions that made such a view suspect. Although the horn in the vision of the ram and goat obviously refers to Antiochus IV, the horn in the other vision does not appear on the head of the corresponding beast, which is the leopard with four heads (which signify the four parts into Alexander’s empire was divided). Rather, it appears on the head of the next beast, the great and terrible one with ten horns, which has no equivalent in the vision of the ram and goat.

Although one may try to force everything mentioned in these visions into the historical period that ends with the death of Antiochus IV, this is not good hermeneutical practice. One should be open to other possibilities, especially that which is clearly alluded to in the book, namely that this is a prophecy about future events. In this case one cannot but to see the remarkable correspondence between the great and terrible beast and the Roman Empire (see [3] for a detailed discussion).

Of special importance is the fact that the eleventh horn that grew on the head of this beast is said to appear in the period before the final judgment, when one like the Son of Man would appear on the clouds of heaven. To what does this refer? Jesus applies this prophecy in the Book of Daniel to his Second Coming: “they will see the Son of Man coming with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30).

If we take Jesus’ words serious, then the prophecy about the four beasts covers a very long period, namely from the time of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, when Daniel is said to have lived, until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This means that the eleventh horn does not refer to Antiochus IV but to an Antichristian figure that would appear at the time of the end. In this case Antiochus IV may be regarded as a type of the final Antichrist, but he is not the only such figure referred to in the Book of Daniel.

Another important prophecy that is often taken as referring to the final Antichrist, is that about the beast in the Book of Revelation. The interesting thing about the description of this beast, is that it builds upon the prophecy in the Book of Daniel about the four beasts that we have just discussed. In fact, the beast of Revelation shows a remarkable correspondence with the eleventh horn in Daniel’s prophecy (in chapter 7). If we accept that the beast is just another reworking of the original prophecy in the Book of Daniel, then it might again refer to the final Antichrist. But again, Biblical Criticism scholars beg to differ.

We find a detailed description of the beast of Revelation in chapter 13. In this case we read that the beast is a composite figure with characteristics of all four the beasts that appear from the sea in Daniel’s prophecy. It looks like a leopard, has feet like that of a bear, with a mouth of a lion and ten horns on its heads (it has seven heads). As is said about the eleventh horn in the prophecy of Daniel, the beast blasphemies against God and makes war against the saints and overcome them. He does this for a period of forty-two months – which agree with the period mentioned in Daniel, namely a period consisting of a time (1 year), times (2 years) and half a time (½ year).

Scholars from the Biblical Criticism view believe that this beast refers to one of the Caesars of the Roman Empire who lived in the time before the Book of Revelation was written (in about 96 AD). Nero is often mentioned. In this case they believe that although the images originate from Daniel 7, they are now applied to the Caesar. Again they believe that no future prophecy is intended. And again this involves forcing certain aspects of this image within an historical perspective that do not fit well.

We read, for example, that the beast would rule with ten kings who have not yet received kingship in the time when the book was written: “The ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour [period] as kings with the beast. They are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast” (Rev. 17:12-13). This strongly suggest that future events are intended.

What is more, in this case we again find that the reign of the beast is placed in the time of the Second Coming of Jesus. We read that the beast will make war with the Lamb [Jesus Christ] (Rev. 17:14). This war is depicted in Revelation 19 where Jesus Christ is described as riding out on a white horse against his enemy. In this case we read: “And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and his army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence” (Rev. 19:19-20). Although it is true that the Book of Revelation is to be read carefully with due consideration for all the many symbols used in the book, there cannot be any doubt that a good hermeneutical approach means that we should consider all the parts of the story about the beast together.

As such it is quite clear that the reign of the beast is placed in future perspective. Although scholars from this school of thought may reject the idea of a future Second Coming, they have to admit that the Christians of that time did think in such terms and that this view is reflected in the book. Again, one should at least be open to the possibility that this should be considered as prophecy, as it is also stated in the beginning of the book (Rev. 1:3). Insofar as this may be considered to be prophecy, the beast is merely another depiction of the eleventh horn of Daniel 7 which refers to a final Antichrist who would appear in the time of the end.

The man of sin

Another important prophecy that is taken by many traditional scholars as referring to the final Antichrist, is in St. Paul’s second Epistle to the Thessalonians, chapter 2. In this famous passage St. Paul describes the period preceding the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. He writes that the Thessalonians should not think that the “coming of our Lord Jesus and our gathering to Him” can take place at any moment. Before that can happen, certain important events would first happen, namely the “falling away”, which refers to a period of religious decline, and the “man of sin” must be revealed.

St. Paul writes: “that Day [of the Lord] will not come unless the falling away comes first. And the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Th. 3:3-4). St. Paul writes that the Thessalonians know what is restraining him that he may be revealed in his own time. He says that it is only once he who now restrains is taken out of the way, that the “lawless one” will be revealed, “whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming” (2 Th. 2:8). The revelation of the "man of sin" would be accompanied with great power, signs and lying wonders worked by Satan himself.

Most Biblical scholars believe that St. Paul refers to the final Antichrist when he speaks of the “man of sin”. It is quite clear from the passage that this person would be on the world scene in the time when Jesus appears in the time of his Second Coming. This is also in line with our reading of the prophecies in the Books of Daniel and Revelation that such a person would appear in that time. In fact, all the prophecies that we discuss place the final Antichrist in the period before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (the Son of man coming with the clouds of heaven). All scholars who take this as referring to a future Antichrist do, however, not agree about the meaning of the passage.

Some scholars, from the Historical School (the name originates from the way in which they interpret the Book of Revelation), believe that St. Paul does not refer to a single person but to an office that is occupied by many different persons, namely the papacy. Their view originated in the time of the Reformation, when the persecution of Christians by the Roman Catholic Church was still fresh in the minds of Protestant Christians.

This interpretation is based on an interesting reading of the discussed passage. They take the view of the early church about the one who restrains the coming of the Antichrist, as point of departure. In the passage St. Paul refers to both a “that [it]” which (verse 6) and a “he” who (verse 7) restrains. The early church understood these as referring to the Roman Empire and the Roman Caesar – which would occupy the place of the Antichristian empire until its time comes and would then stand out of the way for it to appear (this reading is perfectly compatible with the Greek words used) [4].

These scholars apply this logic to the Antichrist. They argue that the same reading should be applied to the Antichrist, which would then refer not to a single person (just as no particular Caesar is referred to) but to the position they occupy (the papacy). They then apply this interpretation to all passages that refer to the future Antichrist. Since the papacy has been on the scene for a very long time, they take certain events as signifying the beginning of the period of the rule of the “Antichrist”, which would last for 1260 years (they take each solar day of the 3 ½ years referred to previously in our discussion of prophecies in the Books of Daniel and Revelation as referring to one solar year).

Although this view is intriguing, it is difficult to reconcile such an office, which is held by many persons (the papacy), with the words “man of sin” and “son of perdition”. We also read that he is the “lawless one” who will be revealed and whom Jesus Christ would destroy with his coming. The words use by St. Paul clearly refers to a single person. Also, the period during which he would persecute the saints, is described as lasting for “a time [1 year], times [2 years] and half a time [½ year]”, 1260 days or 42 months (Rev. 11:2, 3; 12:6, 14; 13:5), which strongly suggest that 3 ½ prophetic years (of 360 days) are implied. One of the biggest problems of this view is that their calculations of the period have left them with red faces as the history of the Seventh-Day Adventists show.

The beast and the harlot

I previously discussed various themes that are closely related to that of the final Antichrist, namely the ten “kings” who would rule with him [3] as well as the final seven years [5]. I will not engage with that again. Space also do not permit me to discuss the themes mentioned above, namely the tribulation (persecution of the saints), the deception of the last days, the falling away and so forth. There is one other topic that is of importance in our understanding of the final Antichrist that is not discussed that often, namely his relation with the great “harlot” who is described in the Book of Revelation as a woman clothed in scarlet who rides on the beast (Rev. 17).

The harlot is presented as a beautiful woman arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls. She holds a golden cup in her hand and sits on the beast, who came from the bottomless pit and go to perdition (see “son of perdition” above). She is said to have committed fornication with the kings of the earth and is “drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs” (Rev. 17:6). Somehow she represents a “mystery” and she is called Babylon, the Great.

Image result for the beast harlot revelation image

Who is this woman? We read that the seven heads of the beast that carries her is the seven mountains on which she sits (verse 9). These seven mountains are without doubt the seven hills on which the ancient city of Rome is located. This is why we also read that she “is the great city which reigns over the kings of the earth” (verse 18). Rome was the great city who ruled over “all the earth” in the days when the Book of Revelation was written. The name given to her, namely Babylon, is also used elsewhere in the New Testament to refer to Rome (1 Pet. 5:13). Somehow ancient Babylon, that great enemy of Israel, is now replaced with the new Babylon, Rome.

The prophecy in Revelation is about the judgment of the harlot and we find a whole song written in advance to commemorate her fall (Rev. 18). How will she fall? She will fall when the ten kings who rule with the beast in the time of the Second Coming, will burn her: “And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire” (verse 16). This means that the prophecy is not about the fall of Rome in the time when the Germanic leader Odoacer conquered her in 476 AD, but refers to a future event.

Insofar as this is to be considered as a prophecy about the end times, the only entity that suits the description of the harlot is the Roman Catholic Church which does not only have its seat in Rome, which had not only brought many states in an alliance with her, but which had also spilled the blood of many Christians whom she has persecuted throughout the ages. The killing of Christians was officially sanctioned since the time when the first Waldensians were burned as heretics in 1211 – their persecution persisted throughout the ages and nearly led to their total extinction. In 1545 thousands were massacred and whole villages were destroyed [6]. The followers of John Wycliffe (1320-1384) and Jan Hus (1372-1415), who was burned at the stake for heresy, were also severely persecuted.

The relation between the beast and harlot reflects that between political power and the Roman Catholic Church. This is reminiscent of the Holy Roman Empire that existed from 800 to 1806 AD (although not continuously). Since Charles the Great was crowned as the “new Constantine” in Rome in 800 AD, those Caesars ruled over this empire as a continuation of the old Roman Empire [7]. One may read the prophecy as saying that the Holy Roman Empire would be restored in the last days and that the Antichrist would take the place of the Caesars when he appears [8].

At this point in time, the Roman Catholic Church is actively involved in efforts to build an ever more unified European Union – presumably with the purpose to reestablish the Holy Roman Empire. The church played an important role in blocking the proposed constitution for the EU in 2005 since it did not have any reference to God. Some of the major political players, such as the first president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and the current head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, are Jesuits. Pope Francis is also playing a very visible role in this regard and he, for example, gave a speech to the European Parliament in November 2014.

Who will be the final Antichrist?

The final question to consider is: who will be the Antichrist? Although some Christians make a habit of pointing to certain political leaders as candidates for the Antichrist, the above analysis implies that he would take the role that was previously held by the Caesars (he may be the final ruler who come to the throne once the Caesars are restored). The only candidates for such a position would be from the ancient line of Hapsburg-Lorraine. There are, however, some prophecies that imply that the Antichrist would get that position by stealth which means that he may be from another family.

There has recently been a family line who presents themselves as the ones to whom such a future position would rightfully belong. This is the House of Plantard de St. Clair [9]. The interesting thing about this family is that their aims show remarkable agreement with the prophecies discussed above. On the one hand there are strong indications that the secret order that works towards the restoration of this family to the throne, the Priory of Sion [10], plays an important role behind the scenes in constructing the EU as a United States of Europe [11]. Their goal seems to be to eventually get a pope of their choice elected who would recognize the claim of this family to the throne of such a restored Holy Roman Empire. On the other hand, they hate the Roman Catholic Church for certain wrongs done to them in the past [12]. One can think that they would eventually turn on it and try to destroy it.

This family has a particular anti-Christian image as supporters of the old pagan, hermetic and esoteric traditions. The strange thing is that they claim to be descended from the family of Jesus Christ (or even from himself). Although there are good reason to think that they are an old European family, this last claim should be regarded as an elaborate hoax to fraudulently promote the claims of the family. Their conflict with the Roman Catholic Church (or rather certain groups in that church) has become the dominant theme in books such as the Da Vinci Code (2003).

Conclusion

In this essay I discuss the most important views about a final Antichrist. Although there had been many antichrists in the past and we may take rulers such as Antiochus IV and Nero as such, there are good reasons to think that a final Antichristian figure who will appear in the period before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is referred to in Biblical prophecy. The purpose of this writing is not to give a detailed discussion of that period (see [3] and [5]) but merely to argue that such a person will rise in accordance with prophecy.

In the view presented here, the Antichrist will not be a Muslin leader [8]. Rather, he will be the final ruler over a restored (Holy) Roman Empire who takes the place of the Caesars who went before. This means that Christians should not take any political leader that they do not like as a possible candidate for the final Antichrist. When the time comes, Christians would recognize him through the prophecies. In this regard there are various other aspects of his reign that I have not discussed here, that give a more comprehensive picture of that time [13]. As Christians we are not in the dark as to what that time would look like – but it is important that we use good hermeneutics when studying the Scriptures.

[2] Some scholars think that the author had the wrong impression that the Median and Persian Empire (i.e. the Achaemenid Empire) was two subsequent empires but this view is refuted by the text itself (Dan. 5:28; 8:20).
[4] There is a contemporary view that the church and Holy Spirit are referred to, i.e. that they withhold the coming of the Antichrist. The problem with this view is that the church is never referred to as "that/it" in the Bible - she is always referred to as "she". So, to what does the "that/it" refers?
[5] The final seven years: the different views
[6] In 2015 the pope asked the Waldensian Christians for forgiveness for the persecution.
[7] I previously argued [3] that the Holy Roman Empire is in fact referred to in another prophecy about the end times, namely the one in Daniel 2, where the dream of Nebuchadnezzar and the explanation given by the prophet are recounted. In this case the king is said to have seen a statue made of various metals: its head was of gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet as well as its ten toes of iron and partly of clay. He saw how a rock crushed the statue and broke it in pieces.
This prophecy corresponds on every point with that in Daniel 7, which I discussed above: the various metals correspond with the different beasts. Although the iron legs are described in the same terms as the terrifying beast with ten horns, in this case more details are given, namely that the two legs (the two parts of the old Roman Empire) would find a continuation in the two feet of iron mixed with clay (the Holy Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire) which would eventually evolve into the kingdom of ten toes (corresponding with the ten horns). The final Antichrist would appear once these are on the scene.
[8] Some interpreters think that the final Antichrist would be a Muslim leader. We can only reconcile this with Bible prophecy if the ten “kings” who rule with him refer to ten Muslim countries (or something like that). I discussed this view in [3] where I show that it has various problems which make that scenario very unlikely.
[9] Pierre Plantard
[11] The authors Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln provide a good discussion about this topic in their book The Messianic Legacy.
[12] The Plantards claim to be the direct male descendants of the Merovingians who ruled in western Europe before the Carolingians (descendants of Charles the Great). According to them the Roman Catholic Church negated on a promise to recognize them as the rightful kings of the Franks when they shifted their support to the Carolingians. They hate the church for that and work actively for its destruction.

Author: Dr Willie Mc Loud (Ref. wmcloud.blogspot.com)

The author has written a few books on eschatology including Op pad na Armageddon, 31 bepeinsings oor Openbaring en ander Bybelprofesieë (1995) asook Die Arabiese Opstande, Hoe raak dit die vervulling van Bybelprofesieë oor die eindtyd (2011, Griffel). He has a Masters in Philosophy (University of Cape Town) as well as a PhD in physics (University of Natal). He writes and lectures on issues of religion, philosophy, science and eschatology.

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